Grieving Parents

Welcome May 30, 2011
If you are a parent who has lost a child, someone who is in the depths of grief or someone learning how to live the "new normal," I hope that the following will be of some help.
When the Waters are Deep May 30, 2011
Howard Edington, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, FL preached this sermon after his twenty-two year old son John David died after accidentally driving his car into a tree during a rainstorm.
A Random Act of Violence May 9, 2011
This article is about how a church in Illinois is healing following the murder of their pastor during a Sunday service. There are interviews with the murdered pastor's wife, the worship pastor and the minister of pastoral care.
Where the Children Can Dance May 2, 2011
Philip Turner, a former dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale wrote the following meditation and read it at his son, Brendan's funeral. Brendan, was delivered after his death, with spina bifida, a cleft palate, and club feet.
Anne Elizabeth Kuzee March 18, 2011
Anne Kuzee died of cancer when she was thirteen. Jack Roeda, her pastor, responded first by acknowledging the abyss of despair and unbelief that could surround the moment. Like biblical lament, he does not soften despair with sentimentality, but also does not let despair be the final word.
Alex's Death March 9, 2011
William Sloane Coffin preached this sermon less than two weeks after his son drove his car into Boston Harbour.
When I Endure Grief February 14, 2011
This is an excerpt from Lloyd John Ogilve's book "Praying Through the Tough Times."
Casey William Alley January 20, 2011
The following is Craig Barnes's funeral sermon for Casey William Alley, a three-week old baby boy.
Giving Birth to Grief January 18, 2011
"Like a mother's pangs, the death of a child brings painful contractions and release." Jack Rehill is a pastor in Pennsylvania and this is his story of the last days of his son's life.

Casey William Alley

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Our text today tells us, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Like all of God’s promises, this one has to be believed to help us. Especially when we are looking at a little coffin.

This is not an easy day. No one will stand up today to talk about all the laughter and great experiences we had with Casey. There is no eulogy describing his long years of devoted commitment to family and service. No celebration of great achievements. That is because we are giving Casey back to God after only three short weeks.

Giving? No, maybe even that is saying too much. Today we are mourning the loss of this precious little baby who was taken from us before we were really ready to let him go.

It is amazing how quickly we all fell in love with this baby. We rooted for him in his struggle to live another day. His short, little, courageous life screams out to all of us never, ever take the day for granted. We are all different for knowing this baby. Which means Casey was a grace from the love of God in our lives. And grace is one of those things from which we can never be separated. Not even by death. Buy you’ve got to choose to believe that.

On this day in which we are mourning the loss of the baby, let us not compound tragedy by also losing our ability to believe. How many time now have we stood in church to say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty . . . the communion of the saints . . . the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting?” Why do we say these words Sunday after Sunday? To prepare us for days like today. For years and year we have gathered into this church to affirm our belief, because we knew the day would come when faith was the only thing that could get us through.

Well, now that day is here. And we will survive the grief, and the questions that do not have answers. We will survive by leaning into our faith. If you don’t have enough yourself, then lean into the faith of the church. But don’t dare try to grieve without believing the heavenly Father has received Casey into his eternal arms, or you will never survive the loss.

Not only does our decision to believe in the grace of God get us through death, it also allows us to give thanks for the three precious weeks we had with Casey. Again, this is a choice, and maybe one of the most heroic choices you can be asked to make. But it’s the only way you’re going to survive. If you choose to resent the loss, your heart will eventually turn dark and you will be unable to love anything in life. But if, in time, you get to the place of choosing to give thanks for the gifts Casey brought into our lives, you will discover that some of his childlike tenderness has been left behind in your own heart.

Give thanks for all the love that poured across his crib from an adoring mother, father, family, and friends. For doctors and nurses who threw their lives into giving Casey another day of life. Give thanks that God has always enjoyed incarnating his love for us in little babies. Give thanks that this eternal love, wrapped in so fragile a package, lives on.

So maybe this is a celebration of life after all. Maybe the thing we most want to say today is not that we are just so angry for losing Casey, but even more, that we are thankful for the life of this precious little boy. Even three short weeks with him was better than a life of never knowing him. Because in Casey William Alley, we received a glimpse of the love of God. And from God’s love we are never separated.

This posting is a chapter in "This Incomplete One: Words Occasioned by the Death of a Young Person," a book edited by Michael D. Bush. You can purchase it on Amazon